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Published on July 27th, 2015 | by ABCUSA

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ABC Voices from Durban – Third Edition

The three-day, 21st Congress of the Baptist World Alliance ended on Sunday, July 26 in Durban, South Africa. This global organization for Baptists, founded in 1905, held its Congress at the International Convention Center. About 2,500 Baptists from about 80 countries attended the event.

Below is the final interview from the Congress with Ruth Clark, former president of American Baptist Churches‎ (ABC), from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2013. Clark was among the ABC attendees and participants at the Congress. Click here to view the first interview, or here to read the second interview.

Question:
Is this your first BWA‎ meeting, and tell us why you are here in Durban?
Answer:
Yes, this is my first Congress, but I have attended at least four of the Annual Meetings of the BWA. The Congress is held every five years.

I attend these BWA meetings to renew relationships with many people I have worked with in global settings over the years. For example, I look forward to meeting with people on the Peace and Justice Commission. I also  ‎come here to remind myself that as a church we still have a lot of work ahead of us. At the same time I look forward to hearing about and  celebrating the good news of God’s work being accomplished all around the world by our Baptist sisters and brothers. These are joy-filled moments.

Question:
Has there been a memorable moment for you at the Congress?bwa11
Answer:
There have been many memorable moments at this Congress. It is a very soul-satisfying and an amazing experience to worship with Christians from around the world‎. In any case, I felt truly blessed and encouraged yesterday. At breakfast I met a woman in Jamaica two years ago at a meeting for women leaders.   This woman held my hand and told me that she has been praying daily for me. What a special blessing and a wonderful gift!

Question:
Is there anything you would like to share with our American Baptist‎ family about your experience at this Congress?
Answer:
I would like to remind us that we do not have to do it alone. We have partners all over the world doing God’s work. We have people walking beside us helping us to do what needs to be done for Christ. At this congress, we experienced the African people in worship. They seem to be filled with God’s Spirit and they worship God with sheer joy. We see some of this same joy in our new ABC immigrant churches.  Are we ready for this same kind of joy from the same Spirit?

Question:
How do you feel about your role as an ABC denominational leader who participa‎ted in this Congress and one who has the opportunity to represent ABC in international settings?
Answer:
There are lots of people to choose from in this global family, so I always feel privileged and honored to be asked to be involved in the BWA program and to travel on behalf of ABC.

My travel to Luzanne in Capetown, South Africa, was my first international experience. Since then, I have been twice to Israel. I have also been to Haiti, Chile, Jamaica, Myanmar and South Africa. I see this travel experience as a gift of God, and as I travel I try to be a faithful witness in sharing about God‎’s work among us as American Baptists. I see God at work in times of natural disaster and in situations of conflict. I also say, “Hallelujah!!” as I see our ABC churches looking more like the United Nations. This, too, is a great gift!

Question:
Do you have any closing thoughts?
Answer:
I am proud to be an American Baptist, and it is  good to experience the many gifts we bring to this global community. As American Baptists, we come to listen, to learn, to worship, and then to return home spiritually energized.


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